Movement for Mufumbwe Disaster: What the MMD must do to Redeem Itself
By Elias Munshya wa Munshya
The MMD’s loss in Mufumbwe is a bitter pill to swallow for them. This is in fact evidenced by their refusal to concede defeat. However, it is a thesis of this article to show that while the Mufumbwe loss was a huge shock to the MMD there are tangible steps that the MMD can take in order to avert further disaster.
First the MMD must swiftly concede defeat in Mufumbwe. It does not make sense that the ruling party, with the privileges of incumbency should be petitioning an election result of this nature. Petitioning this election may go to show that the MMD is not in control of the structures of government at all. Additionally, it has the potential to show that they are bitter losers. The best that they should do is to concede defeat learn, from their mistakes and move on. The accusations of violence are neither here nor there. Zambia has seen more violent campaigns such as the Mapatizya by-election. And petitioning the results based on the notion of UPND’s use of violence is a serious misnomer whose political consequence is too fatal for the MMD.
Secondly, the MMD should check their choice of parliamentary candidates in the by-elections. For their candidate in Mufumbwe, they retrieved Mulondwe Muzungu who had been contesting elections since the Kaunda era. The question should be, didn’t the MMD have younger and fresher candidates they could have adopted? The optics of the by-election campaigns spoke for themselves—here is Banda over 70 years old, campaigning for his age-mate. Now contrast that with a young looking Hichilema campaigning for youthful Kamondo. It is clear that the optics did not work well for the MMD’s campaigns in Mufumbwe. A younger candidate could have helped them.
Thirdly, the MMD will need to shuffle both the cabinet and the MMD decks. I am sure that there will be a cabinet reshuffle soon and George Kunda is likely to be replaced. Such a move is necessary if the MMD are to turn around their political fortunes. Kunda has not proved to be politically helpful to Banda. What Banda needs going into the 2011 elections, is a Vice-President who is politically savvy. As such, he will do well to consider having George Mpombo, or Katele Kalumba as the Vice-President. Mpombo will help Banda stem the loss of “kwi Lamba”, and his politically outspokenness can be a good match for HH and Sata. Katele also provides a good relief for Banda. No one in MMD politics can beat Katele’s political acumen. Katele is a fighter, whose political shrewdness combined with some comedic elements proves potent for political maneuvering. Considering the corruption allegations he was facing, Katele had zero chances of bouncing back into Mwanawasa’s arms. But there was Katele, in Kabwe, beating VJ Mwaanga to scoop the Chief Executive Job. If Katele is acquitted of corruption by the courts Rupiah would be in order to consider him for the Vice-Presidency. Besides Katele, whose wife is Lozi, may provide the necessary connection to Barotseland as well. Barotse is undoubtedly a critical constituency in the coming elections.
Conversely, the man Rupiah Banda should not even consider for Vice-Presidency is Defence Minister Kalombo Mwansa. He lacks political popularity, and his grim temperament is demonstrated by his decision to take a civil action suit against a Dry Cleaning company for messing up his suit a few years ago. A whole Minister of Home Affairs, at that time, wasting lots of money, and precious time to sue a company because it had messed up his suit! I wonder what Kalombo would do as acting President if something like that happened again. If another company messes up his suit again he will send them a battalion, I am sure. And questions still remain, why did he litigate? Was it to prove a point, or to claim compensation? On the other hand, it may be too unfair to judge Kalombo’s character from this incidence alone, but coming from a man who does not make lots of political clamor—this incidence may be the only thing we can judge him by.
Fourthly, the MMD should re-think their Hichilema strategy. HH is likely to be the kingmaker in the next elections. It is my opinion that the UPND and PF pact is not likely to materialize, and thereby split the electoral vote to Sata’s favor. Contrary to what many political commentators suppose, I am of the opinion that the MMD does actually have a better chance retaining the presidency fighting a Pact than they do fighting HH and Sata separately. With Rupiah, Hichilema, and Sata all vying for the presidency, an election that has all the three as candidates is likely to go Sata’s way due to the simple “ first past the post” rule. If we are to use 2008 elections as a way to predict forthcoming trends then the MMD is in deep trouble with the rise of HH. Here is the arithmetic, from 2008 election results Banda had 718,359 votes, while Sata had 683,150, and HH had 353,018. Banda beat Sata by only 35,209 votes. And as such, if HH continues to eat into Banda’s support base in Northwestern Province, and assuming that all else remains equal, HH would obliterate Banda’s 35,000 vote advantage. And thereby create a huge benefit for the PF which is unsurprisingly holding its support in Lusaka, Copperbelt and Northern Province with the exception of Luapula. The MMD should therefore, try to speak with the UPND and persuade HH into forming a pact with them or even consider him for future Presidency. Honestly if MMD went and got RB from the farms, they can surely acquire HH. There will be more in the UPND who would feel more welcome with Banda’s MMD than with Sata’s PF. The overtures towards HH should begin now. HH and Banda could bury their insulting differences and make an alliance to prevent one Michael Sata from ruling the country. All those claiming that HH and the UPND are violent; choose forget Chawama—when Michael Sata was unleashed. With Sata in State House, the whole Zambia will unquestionably become a Mufumbwe disaster!